On April 18, 2024, the Court of Justice delivered its judgement on the questions referred to it by the Prague Municipal Court in the Heureka v. Google case.[1]  Heureka Group (“Heureka”), a Czech comparison shopping service company (“CSS”) brought an action before the Municipal Court of Prague in the Czech Republic, seeking compensation from Google for the harm it allegedly suffered as a result of Google’s abusive behavior as part of the Google Shopping decision.  The referring court sought clarification about whether Article 10 of Directive 2014/104 (the “Damages Directive”) [2] and/or Article 102 TFEU[3] preclude the effects of a national law that requires parties seeking compensation for competition infringements to file suit within three years of the occurrence of the harm.  The Court of Justice ruled that Article 102 TFEU and the principle of effectiveness require the suspension of limitation periods during the Commission’s investigation.  The limitation period will only start running when the injured party knows the information necessary to bring its claim, which is presumed to be as of the date of the publication of the summary of the Commission’s infringement decision in the Official Journal of the EU.  Additionally, the injured party, Heureka in this instance, can then rely on the findings of a  Commission decision under appeal, as it is binding in nature, unless and until it has been annulled.  

On June 29, 2023, the Court of Justice ruled on questions referred by the Lisbon Court of Appeals relating to alleged resale price maintenance (“RPM”) by Super Bock, a Portuguese beverage manufacturer.[1]  The Court of Justice held, inter alia, that a vertical agreement fixing minimum prices is not necessarily a restriction of competition by object despite its characterization as a “hardcore restriction” under the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”)[2] and, in certain circumstances, the existence of an agreement may be inferred from “explicit or tacit acquiescence” by the distributors to an invitation to comply with minimum resale prices.[3]

On July 4, 2023, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in Meta Platforms Inc. v. Bundeskartellamt,[1] following a request for a preliminary ruling from the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court (“Düsseldorf Court”) on the validity of the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) 2019 decision finding that Meta Platforms (“Meta”)[2] abused its dominant position by collecting and processing data without users giving their consent freely.[3]  The Court of Justice confirmed that competition authorities can find breach of data protection rules under the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) where that finding is necessary to establish the existence of an abuse of dominance under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”).  The Court of Justice however emphasized that competition authorities are required to consult and cooperate with national supervisory authorities in charge of GDPR enforcement (“GDPR authorities”).

On March 27, 2023, the European Commission (the “Commission”) announced it would revise its 2008 Guidance on enforcement priorities regarding Article 102 TFEU[1] (the “2008  Guidance”).  The Commission has amended its 2008 Guidance in a Communication and Annex.  It has also launched a consultation seeking feedback on the adoption of new Guidelines on exclusionary abuses of dominance that the Commission intends to adopt in 2025 after publishing a draft in 2024.  While the amendments in the 2008 Guidance bring it closer to the case law, they show the Commission seeking more discretion and leeway in its investigations.